Some years ago a movement began that captured the attention of many believers. The movement originally took up the name, ‘Neo-Pentecost.’ Eventually the term, ‘Charismatic,’ became the norm. At the beginning it seemed that the movement was a fresh breath from heaven.
However, the movement had a dangerous side that was not easy to recognize. The teachings had a subtle way of subverting Scriptures. Many church leaders failed to realize just how misleading the teachings were and are.
Man was being glorified in place of the Lord. Pride was taking the place of humility.
The teachings were essentially earthly and man-centered, with a strong appeal to egotism and self-importance.
The allurement was hard to escape. To this day so many fail to recognize the snares. I guess it comes back to people believing what they want to believe.
But why do not the leaders see this evil at work? Do not the leaders have ‘cautions’ and ‘checks’ in their own spirit?
I’ve been a minister of the gospel nearing fifty years, and I’ve had my share of failures. But one thing the Lord had always done for me – He gives me intuitive warnings when evil is at work.
Then I call to mind something the prophet Jeremiah said about God’s ancient people –
“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” (Jer 5:30-31)
Whatever Ever Happened to Repentance
Before I call attention to repentance, let me make an observation of something else Jeremiah said about God’s people loving it so.
Today the response could be,
‘Well, that was back then. We are an enlightened people. We are under the new covenant. We could never be in the place of loving false prophets.’
Let’s take closer heed to something else the prophet had to say. (Pay attention to the highlights.)
“The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it.
“I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied.
“But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.” (Jer 23:20-22)
Did you catch it. Both statements by Jeremiah are addressing the same issue. Many who take the name Christian, love the false prophets. The love has to do with these soothsayers always declaring peace and victory over the people.
What do false prophet rarely preach? They do not preach repentance.
And so, we have arrived. What do we know about the crucified life?
Repentance and turning from sinful living is not the message heard in the false movement. Rather than turning from the world, the door had been opened for the world to take up residence in the church.
For many, the idea of seeking to live a holy and separated life has disappeared into the dust barrel of yesterday.
Even the word ‘repent’ has lost much of its meaning. In our way of thinking it simply means, ‘to be sorry’. That is not what the Biblical term means.
We sorrow over bad things happening in our lives. Our sorrow is generally over what we’ve been caught at. The Biblical term, repent (metanoeite), means to change your attitude and conduct. Change your way of thinking and turn from your mode of life.
This is why John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees to ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance’. They had to prove by their thinking and doing, that they were turning away from their sinful and prideful way of life.
What ever happened to repentance? It was no longer needed.
The message, Jesus loves us just as we are, has replaced God’s call to change our thinking, and to turn from our sinful life style. Sin is no longer sin. Certainly the Lord loves all of humanity, but He does not leave us as we are.
Without repentance, we continue to live an adulterous life style because, ‘nothing could ever separate us from the love of God.’ And the church becomes filled with the spirit of adultery.
Do you see where the twisting takes place?
Scriptures are twisted to mean something they do not mean. Scriptures are distorted and removed from their context.
Jesus said, ‘Unless you repent, you will perish.’
But it doesn’t stop there. The teaching takes up with …
You Can Create
The teachings center on an earthly prosperity message and the making of confessions. Included is the projection that believers can do everything that Jesus did.
Then the phrase, ‘We are little gods’, became a catch-phrase among popular TV preachers. Of course that teaching filtered right on down the line. After all, if these popular TV preachers can teach it, then it must be true.
The idea was that God wanted to fill our coffers with silver and gold, that we would never have to worry about any struggles in life. Why, we could just confess into existence anything that we wanted.
By the way, guess whose coffers were being filled.
It goes like this – If Jesus could do it, then we could do it. All we had to do was to call those things that be not, as though they were. The moniker for this became, ‘Name it. Claim it. Frame it.’
What many did not see was that the Lordship of Jesus Christ was being undermined. If we can do everything Jesus did, why do we need Jesus. One very popular Charismatic minister made these statements:
“Don’t say you have Jesus. You are everything he was, is and shall be.”
He also had this to say:
“When you say, ‘I am a Christian, you are saying I am a little Messiah walking on the earth. May I say it? You are a little god running around.'”
[You may want to take time for this study: http://buddymartin.net/blog/the-father-of-all-lies/]
How could all this happen? It is like…
The Frog in the Kettle
Perhaps you’ve heard the analogy of putting a frog in a kettle of cold water and turning on the burner. The frog is not concerned. Being in water is his natural state. What he doesn’t know is that the water is going to kill him, and the frog will be no more.
I realize all this may seem facetious, but it is not without cause. What happens over time, is that some start waking up and finding that life can be filled with struggles, and you can’t simply confess them away.
People find out that we are not little gods on the planet, that we are in great need of an everyday Lord and Savior. Sometimes life can be pure hell. None of this takes away from, ‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.’
People began to find out that maybe we can’t do just everything that Jesus did; that maybe only Jesus can do Jesus things; that we need to look to Him, believe in Him, walk with Him, receive from Him, trust His oversight of our lives, and believe in all that He provides for us.
Some are also finding out that maybe daddy and mama had a pretty good grasp with their ole timey-way of serving the Lord. (They may not have been right about all their understanding of the Bible, but they had heart.)
The greatest loss is what Jesus treasured most
What has this modern movement stolen from the church? The missing element today is our loss of, ‘the fear of the Lord.’
Why would I call this what Jesus treasured most of all? Listen to the prophet Isaiah –
“The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. and He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (Isa 33:5-6)
“The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD … “ (Isa 11:2-4)
What does the fear of the Lord mean? The fear of the Lord takes in both love and respect and faith and trust. It means that we love God above all else, and we seek to do His will. It means that we know in our hearts that God is true and that His Word is divine.
The fear of the Lord is what puts wisdom into a believer’s walk.
The fear of the Lord is what causes us to turn from evil.
The fear of the Lord is what will keep us from being destroyed in a judgment to come.
Yes, I well remember when certain modern-movement teachers would make fun of the church songs we sang as children. What they should have noted is that those old songs came out of our God fearing experiences of life, when He stood with us in our time of need.
Time is Short
You see, life will not always be a bed of roses. It may actually be more like a mountain railroad.
I am just an old time country preacher, counting close to seventy-four years of age. Nor do I regret sharing any of what I have shared. What do I have to fear?
And, yes, I firmly hold fast to the security of believers. Yes, I truly believe that we are overcomers in Christ Jesus.
And, yes, I also hold fast to God’s call to seek a life of holiness.
And, yes, I believe the time is short. It may not be for me to be here at the second coming of Jesus, but I will surely be with Him, one way or another.
So, why not take time for this mountain song that your grandparents use to sing. Maybe it has a message for you.
Always in Christ,